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Budget

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 19th November 2019.

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Photo of Derek Mackay Derek Mackay Scottish National Party

I agree with Patrick Harvie’s fundamental point, and I have already alerted the Treasury and the Finance and Constitution Committee to it. Even before the cancellation of the UK budget, I was of the view that, given the experience that we now have, the fiscal framework requires to be reviewed urgently, and the situation that we are now in proves why the framework needs to be revisited as a matter of urgency.

As the Finance and Constitution Committee—of which Patrick Harvie is a member—knows, if the UK Government sets the UK budget so late that it presents the difficulties that I outlined in an earlier answer, it is not impossible that the Scottish Government would proceed before the UK Government’s budget is set. However, that would bring considerable and almost unacceptable risks to the process. There would be risks in trying to arrive at the numbers that we would be working with and in trying to second guess the UK Government in relation to the tax proposition and other matters. It would be a risky process.

We will impress upon the UK Government the need for it to set a UK budget and outline its policies as quickly as is responsible. We, of course, will respond to that. That will give us an orderly approach to budget setting in Scotland. I am concerned about the risks of our setting a budget before the UK Government has set its budget, and I know that the Finance and Constitution Committee agrees that there are risks. We will continue to work with Opposition spokespeople on a range of contingencies, should it transpire that the UK Government will continue with this uncertainty not only by not setting a budget but by not even setting a budget date. That is the position about which we are wrestling with the UK Government.